Wednesday, July 30, 2008

I rode my horse!!!

Things have really been progressing well lately! Boomer is allowing me to pick up his back feet using the rope without a problem. He is also very calm about being sprayed with fly spray. Yesterday when we bridled him he never even took a step back! He is a little stubborn about opening his mouth, but I don't think it will be long before he relaxes into that as well! After we groomed and tacked him I took him out to longe in the round pen.

There was a low spot in the round pen and is was a little soggy still. I encouraged Boomer to walk through it and after a few tries he picked his way through very calmly. The reason I had him do this was important. While I would never ask him to go through mud if there was a dry path there may be a situation where we need to cross through the mud on a trail ride. He must be able to pick through it rationally and not try to scramble out or jump out. That is when injuries occur. The more he can look at the situation rationally, the more likely he will be to pick the most solid path on his own.

I am really very impressed by how well he is doing on the longe line after just four weeks of work! He responds very well to all of my commands equally well on both the left and right side. So far, I am really satisfied with everything we have been working on.

After we had a short longe lesson I had John come in and hold Boomer's lead rope. I put pressure in both stirrups and swung up over his back. He was a bit 'quivery' in the hind end, prepared for a buck, kick, or bolt... I jumped down and repeated on the other side. I tried again and he was much calmer so I swiveled around and kicked out of the stirrup so that I was sitting side saddle. Boomer didn't even twitch! I got down and tried it on the other side and then I picked up a stirrup and swung my leg over his neck and picked up my other stirrup! I was on his back! John led him around the round pen at a walk and did a few stops and starts and a turn to the left and a turn to the right. I got off him and praised him lavishly, loosened his girth and took off the bridle. Next time we are out there together I think we will repeat the same exercise in the paddock next to his so that we can work a little better on walking and turning.

After this we hosed him off and fed him on the tarp again!

So, my list of goals is changing and I thought it would be good to keep it written down:

  1. fear of water (check)
  2. fear of tarp (check)
  3. pick up back feet (in progress)
  4. bridle easily (almost)
  5. ride (check)
  6. work on responsiveness to cues
  7. work or turns and going straight
  8. fear of trailer

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Soggy Sunday

It rained last night making the round pen a wet mess! We had a lot on our list of things to do today so John and I just went ahead and got started!

First I had John hold Boomer and keep him calm him. Then I used the rope and put it around his back leg. I lifted each of his back legs three time for between 10- 30 seconds each. He didn't really even struggle! For the next week I will repeat the exercise daily, progressively lifting his leg more 'up' instead of forward towards his front feet. The next week I will start touching and grabbing his leg when it is lifted until he will let
me pick it up without the rope. This project already seems so manageable when I look back at his other fears we have conquered!

After that I put the belly rope on him and had John stand to the right of his head and hold the rope as well as calm him. I needed to give him his dewormer because he has been rubbing his tail for the last two days. There are several types of dewormers and they work best when rotated. generally you can give the paste every two months. The three types which are best for the rotation is a Pyrantel Pamoate, Anthelcide EQ, and Ivermectin 1.87%. Anyway, I gave him the paste and was expecting him to toss his head, rear, or back up. He just took it. He didn't really like it, but he took the paste without a problem. The way you give a horse any kind of oral medication or electrolyte is by a big syringe that has dash marks on the plunger with a stopper. You set the stopper at the correct dosage dash mark and put the syringe into the corner of the horses mouth and get it as far to the back of the tongue as possible, then you depress the plunger. It is fast and easy as long as the horse is cooperative.

After the worming, John and I groomed Boomer and got him tacked up. We have started putting the bridle on before the saddle so that we can use the belly rope. He fights the bridling process tooth and nails. Today he backed about 5 feet and tossed his head. Then he walked forward, put his head down, but he held his mouth shut. After a minute he opened his mouth and accepted the bit without a fuss! We were so proud of him! I longed him for a while and then John came over and held his head and the stirrup on the off side and I swung up like I was going to mount him but didn't put my leg over. He was perfect! I did it three times on his left side and then moved to his right. I swung up twice and on the second time I laid across his back! He swung his head around but didn't move an inch! I got off and we praised him and untacked him right there as a reward!

We put the belly rope back on and led him towards the hose. There was a huge puddle and we decided to take him through it. He went all the way around it and then finally put a foot in! Then he hesitantly walked through it! At first he was hesitating with his hind end really far under him and he was not well balanced. This on top of mud was causing his back feet to slip which was making him nervous and reinforcing his fear that the ground was not safe. When we got him moving forward, he realized that the ground was safe after all, even under the water. We tried
walking him through it the opposite direction but I made the mistake of staying on the dry ground. The reason this was a mistake and blatant oversight on my part is because when he feels trapped and wants to escape, his only escape is where I am standing. In short, I ended up with his kicking end in my personal space. All is well, but I know to stay on between him and the scary object from now on. After this we hosed him off, face and all and he was perfect!

After all of this we turned him out, fed him, and cleaned out the water trough! By the way, I feed him Purina Ultium, a food for high performance horses with a balanced ratio of carbs, fats, and proteins. I also give him a scoop of electrolytes in his food to make up for the minerals lost from sweating.

The pictures are of me working with Boomer on the longe line. The first two are of him at a working trot and at the walk. The third is of him stopped just before I gave him the cue to reverse. The last one is a shot of his snappy hock action!!!

(This video shows us working at a walk and trot with a reverse!)

(Charley getting checked out by Grunt)

Friday, July 25, 2008


I decided to have a farrier out to work on Boomer's feet even though I was having a hard time handling his back legs. He had his assistant hold Boomer and this guy was really calm and gentle. I liked him right away. He held Boomer's head and talked to him softly and blew into his nose and Boomer stayed relaxed the whole time. The farrier started out by putting a rope around his pastern and pulling it up, Boomer resisted but the farrier, Scott, held strong. Eventually he set his foot down and praised him. He did this a few times on each side and Boomer cooperated, somewhat begrudgingly. Scott then had me try. While I couldn't lift his foot as high, Boomer was still calm and didn't fight too much.

Scott then started to trim. He did the front feet first and nipped the cracking overgrown part of the hoof wall and then rounded the toe with the rasp. He told me that Boomer has good, strong feet especially since it has been a year since he was last trimmed. I already knew these things, but it did give me a chance to ask his advice on Biotin. He does recommend it and prefers Horseshoer's Secret. They sell this at Atwood's for $25 a bucket, which should last a few months. The thing Scott said about Biotin is that you must give it every day. If you miss a week or so, you have just thrown away your money. It makes sense as the hoof grows slowly and must regrow from the coronet band down.

The whole trim took about 30 minutes and I really appreciated the way he worked with Boomer. He told me he had worked with Arabs before, that made me feel good that he understood their flighty tendencies.

Scott charged us $30 for the trim and $10 in travel charges. I felt that was a very fair price. Last year when I cared for Steve's eleven polo horses he was being charged $35 for a trim. There was no travel charge for Steve's horses because I had eleven horses that either needed a trim or new shoes, which would rack up about $650 a visit. All in all, $40 every 7-8 weeks isn't half bad!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Things are going well!

John declared the belly rope the be a miracle worker today. I think he is right. We have come so far because of that simple tool. Today we put the belly rope on from the start and he was fine being 'tied' for grooming. We then decided to put the bridle on first so that we could use the belly rope. He did back up, but no rearing. John really gave him a run for his money when he backed up and Boomer coughed a few times before he caught his breath. We tried again and he pulled back but came forward and put his head down. We let him relax and think a little while we petted him. We tried again and he just opened his mouth, accepted the bit and stayed down while I finished bridling him. I think John and I were both in shock for a while about that!

I tacked him up and longed him in the paddock again. He didn't pull on the line at all and was very calm, even about changing directions. He was very good about stopping also. I started working with getting him to extend and collect the walk and trot both. He responded pretty well to that also! I think he is really coming along! After his workout of about 15-20 minutes we untacked and put the belly rope back on. We hosed him off with no problem and the best part is this... John turned the pressure down and I even rinsed his face! Most horses will not allow that, ever! I have gone, in two weeks, from having a horse who would fight to the death to stay away from a hose to enjoying his bath and allowing his face to be rinsed! I don't know if it is the belly rope, us moving slow, or him relaxing and thinking more... Whatever it is, it's working! I couldn't be happier!

John and I set up our camping chairs outside of the fence by his feed bucket and waited. After about 10 minutes of munching hay Boomer wandered over and crossed the tarp to eat his food! I was so happy! It was windy and the tarp blowing around didn't even phase him!

All in all, a good day!

Change of scenery

Yesterday I decided that the round pen was getting boring. If I am bored, it won't be long before Boomer is too. So, I used the paddock next to his as a new place to longe. Being a new place, he was very snorty and curious. But he still behaved very well. He could longe on a bigger circle, so he was a little confused and did try to change directions or stop, but only halfheartedly, like he was confused and not misbehaving. The paddocks are twice as long as they are wide so on the top and bottom of the circle he would pull on the line. I held steady and eventually he began to understand the idea of the circle. I longed him until he was more relaxed than when we started. Then I looped his rope over the fence by the hose and went to get the belly rope. But he pulled back. I am afraid he has learned this pull back trick works for getting him untied. So, my solution is to start tying him with the belly rope. He needs to be able to stand tied. Anyway, I got his belly rope and put it on him and then I rinsed him all by myself! He was a bit prancy and snorty, but did very well! I was proud of him! After I turned him out I went out and took a bunch of pictures of him.
Here is a picture of the top of his paddock. His water trough is shared by his neighbors and has a faucet and hose on the other side of the fence. His feed bucket is over the 9' x12' tarp in the corner by his shed. On the other side of the shed is the gate. The first four pictures were taken in the back of the paddock where Boomer hangs out with Peanut and Pals. He has a bale of hay in the shed and one by the back fence.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Here is John

The man I love!

Blogging in real time!

Today I went out to the barn after getting a new tarp (9 by 12 feet) and a piece of PVC tubing. And hay, which is about $7 a bale. Up about $1.50 from last summer. So, I get out there and start grooming Boomer and I noticed a rubbed spot on his neck, it looked like the fence was the culprit. I tried to touch it but he freaked and pulled back, rearing. Big surprise! So I calmed him down and relaxed him, only to realize that he has now frayed his rope almost into two pieces! I have never had a horse break a lead rope EVER before and now this guy is on his third and needs a NEW one already!!! Thats an expense I hadn't planned for! Anyway, I took him out to longe (no tack today) and let him trot both directions at liberty before I hooked the longe line on. This is the first time I have longed with a rope since I realized he didn't know how to go right. He was a dream. Seriously a dream. He obeyed commands for the walk, trot, canter, and woah. He even changed directions calmly at a walk when I signaled with my hand! It was the first time I really felt like longing was doing more than working out kinks and reinforcing respect. I really felt like we could focus and stay calm enough to get a real workout! That was very exciting!

When I was waiting for John to come out I decided to put on the belly rope and sack him out to the PVC pipe. He didn't even bat an eye, so I started tapping his back legs. He scooted over but the stood calmly with his leg held up. I tried the other side and got the same results. This left me with mixed feelings. He obviously isn't freaked out about having his legs touched, but he doesn't want to give them up to have them worked on. I am glad he seems to be fearless about having things knocking into his legs, but I was hoping the 'poling' would help his leg situation. The next step seems to be to have the belly rope on and then have John wrap the cotton lead rope around his ankle and pull it up. Other than that, I don't know what to do. Unfortunately, this is a bit more urgent than I had hoped. Boomer came with bad feet. Well, his feet in and of themselves are great- strong, round, cupped; but they hadn't been trimmed in a year and are flaring out and cracking. Today his front left hoof chipped pretty badly. I had hoped that his previous owner would have had that done but I should have asked. I have been putting it off for the past two weeks because he is so difficult when it comes to his feet and I don't want a farrier who 'just wants to get the job done' to spook him or make him worse. Tomorrow I will call around and see if I can get one out to do his front feet and maybe help me with his back feet OR who will just come back in a few weeks for his back feet.

Other than that ordeal, we hosed him off again with little fuss and put out the big tarp. I'm sure he will figure it out on his own but he didn't show any interest in his grain bucket because he also had a few bales of hay to munch on.

Saturday the 19th...

Today was a huge day for all three of us! We groomed and tacked Boomer up, I just ran my hands down his back legs. I'm going easy on them until I figure out a safe method for training (more on that later). John helped me with bridling, which is still a chore, but he has only been bridled probably 5 times. I'm hoping around session 15 he will start handling it better. We took him out to the round pen and I worked him at liberty for about 30 minutes at a walk, trot, and canter.

Horses, like people, have a dominant side. Most horses are left side (or near side) dominant. This is the side that they are led, saddled, bridled, and mounted from. It is important in training a horse that you do not cater to their dominant side and that you give the off side as much attention as the near side. Boomer, until now, doesn't seem to have had much work on his off side, especially while longing. So, I try to keep him going right about 75% of the time. He is already seeming more balanced and flexible. It is important while longing, especially while at liberty (no longe line) to keep in control of the horse. A horse will occasionally try to change direction on their own and you must get in front of them and force them back the other way. Boomer was really bad about this the first few times I made him go to the right but he only tried it once today. Baby steps, you know?

Up to today I have been longing him with a bridle with the reins taken off. Today I kept the reins attached and ran them under the stirrup leathers and up on the seat of the saddle. I tied them so that he could still have free range of movement with his head but if he stretched downward he would bump the reins about a foot before getting to the ground. This exercise teaches a horse to be aware of the bit in their mouth as well as teaches them to balance while keeping their head in an acceptable position. It takes a lot of neck strength for a horse to balance with their head 'set'. I am not and will not ask for a proper 'head set' for many months, but this is a good starting point.

The real reward today came when we finished working. I untacked Boomer and John got his gloves and the belly rope. We put on the belly rope and led Boomer to the hose. I turned the hose on and Boomer pranced around a little. John was soothing to him and he even tried to hide his head behind John! I moved the hose closer and closer until it was spraying his front hooves. He pulled a little, but never offered to rear. It seems as if he learned from the belly rope lesson! I sprayed his whole right side and we moved to his left side. Horses do not make associations like people do. What happens on his left does not transfer to the right side. A good example is him being OK with wearing the tarp, but refusing to walk on it. So, I started over being very slow and soothing and slowly working up to hosing his left side. He accepted it and I think it probably felt good! He was dripping with sweat and it was a HOT day! After that John turned him out and we fed him on the tarp again. This was a HUGE accomplishment and really gave me a confidence booster! I could check something off of my goal list!

Oh, my goal list... I have a few goals for Boomer. I would like to accomplish most of them before I ride him. Fears are like holes in a horses foundation. The foundation training and groundwork need to be complete before you attempt to ride.

  1. Get over fear of tarp (working on it)
  2. Get over fear of water (check!)
  3. Pick up feet for handling*
  4. Accept bit easily
  5. Overcome fear of trailer (this might not happen for a while, we don't have a trailer)
  6. RIDE!!!

*John researched a method for foot handling called 'poling'. Essentially, you take a six foot length of PVC pipe and sack him out with it. Then you tap his hocks and fetlocks with it. That way, when he kicks, he gets the pole and not me! You keep tapping until he realizes that it doesn't hurt and stops kicking. Then you release pressure (stop tapping). Horses learn from the release of pressure, not the pressure its self. Eventually when you tap his fetlock, he picks up but doesn't kick. After doing that for a while you begin to stroke his leg while you tap and cup his ankle then release. You do this over and over until you can hold his foot and he doesn't struggle. THEN you can call the farrier and get this horses feet trimmed!

Friday the 18th...

I went out to the barn today before John got home from work. I was grooming as usual and getting ready to tack up and go to the round pen. I have been working on Boomer's back feet. He is fine with the legs being handled but it is almost like he doesn't know how to balance on his own if one of his back legs is surrendered. So I have been taking it slowly and just running my leg down his hand until he lifts it. Rewarding with a release of pressure even if he just shifts his weight away from me. Well, this process had been progressing very well until today. Today he immediately kicked at me and he brushed my jeans just below my knee. Had I been any closer I would be limping today. After he kicked me he proceeded to pull back and rear. I realized that he was tied with a safety knot that was just getting tighter. He would not be able to pull away. I boldly walked right up to his head, pulled him down and calmly told him "easy, woooaaahhh" until he stopped. He and I both were pretty shaken up. I ended up not taking him to the round pen and just working more on leg yields with the stirrup. I probably should have taken him to the round pen to work out our jitters, but I was a little on edge, especially because I was out there alone and my phone was in the car- a pasture away.

I untacked him and we spent some time bonding and I got a great idea. I decided that because we have so much to work on, I would let him get over the tarp fear on his own! I would feed him on it! That was he would get a reward for the good behavior, and it would be an organic learning process! So, I set the tarp up with rocks on each corner to hold it flat and I poured his food on it. He looked at me and walked away. I waited for about 20 minutes but he made no attempts, so I left.

John and I came back that evening and he hadn't touched the food. So, we waited. He eventually came over and got as close to the tarp as possible while streeeaaaatching towards the food. Then he put one foot on... and then another! We couldn't believe how easy it was, and he did it himself!

Getting up to date (7)...

The first few days:

I decided to keep the first few days calm and relaxed, going over things Boomer already knows how to do well. I groomed and saddled him, longed him, and bonded with him. John is a big part of our training process and he is a huge help with bridling Boomer. Boomer is not easy to bridle, but I don't really blame him. I think it will just take time before he accepts the bit readily and easily. I am working on him putting his head low, almost to the ground when I bridle him. Naturally, it comes right up when I get the bit in his mouth, but with time I hope he will start leaving it low for longer periods and raising it less. Eventually, the goal is to have his nose at hip height for bridling.

I have started working on yielding head and sides with Boomer, both with pressure and with the bit. He actually is a natural. First I pulled his head towards me and blew in his nostril gently (a horsey greeting) and he did not resist at all! Then I moved to the other side and had the same results! I was very happy to see that although he is overweight, he has a flexible neck. The next thing to try was what will later translate to leg yielding. I got him walking and pushed on his side just behind his elbow. He automatically stepped away with his front end! I then pushed on his side about a foot or two further back and he stepped his near back leg over his far back leg. This is a good sign because he is yielding to pressure at a walk, but he is doing so with a forward momentum. The far side (right side) also checked out with the same results.

After working with Boomer in the round pen he is usually really sweaty. I so far have been hesitant to wash him because his previous owner said that he does not like to be washed. I have seen how he reacts to fear and I'm not sure I want to see what happens with water. But, I am concerned about putting him away sweaty a few days in a row and I take my chances. My first mistake I later realized was tying him up. I looped his rope around the fence a few times and turned on the hose. He immediately reared up and started pulling back. I thought the fence would come up or he would flip backwards and break his neck. He kept pulling and rearing and eventually pulled the rope loose and ran off. I went and caught him and brought him back. This time I had John hold him and I just turned the water on to fill the trough. Once he calmed down, I turned it off. I decided we needed a new tactic.

Enter Sylvia Scott and her web site
I took her advice on using a belly rope. A belly rope is a 20 foot length of nylon rope with a permanent loop tied in one end. The rope is secured with the end through the loop around the horses belly. It is then pulled up between the horses front legs and through the halter ring. When the horse pulls back or rears, the pressure tightens, as soon as he steps forward the pressure is released.

So, I went to Atwood's and picked up a few items, including a rope. I had John help me out and be the strength for this exercise. We decided to work with a tarp before moving to his 'real' fear. He is already sacked out to the tarp, but refuses to step on it. Last time we tried the tarp, he got very worked up and would jump over it, around it, anything but step on it. Now we are trying this new tactic and trying to keep him as calm as possible. He did pull back and rear a few times, but he also responded to the release of pressure. He stayed calm and the session was interspersed with lots of bonding with John and I both. Eventually we got two front feet on the tarp and quit at that!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Getting up to date (6)...

Training philosophy:

Boomer's first day at Sequili was a calm, quiet one. I worked him for a short time in the round pen, spent time grooming him, and watched him interact with the other horses.

I have been developing my training philosophy as I have been learning more about and from Boomer. I have learned that Boomer is generally open to new ideas but when he becomes afraid he quickly makes the switch from rational thinking to reactionary behaviors. His fear bar is pretty low and my goal is to raise the fear bar and raise his confidence levels. I think Boomer is very smart, as long as he is not the slightest bit nervous. As soon as he become more than a little wary, it is all over.

So, my goal is to create a strong bond with Sabumi which will encourage him to trust and respect me. He is seriously lacking in respect and has on several occasions lashed out and tried to kick me and others. I'm sure he is somewhat nervous and defensive in this new situation, but it is not acceptable behavior. So far our bonding is going really well. I know a few of his favorite scratch spots and he comes to me in the pasture.

After witnessing his reaction to things he is afraid of I have decided the only way to train this horse is to push him just below his fear bar and keep him there until he relaxes, bond with him and bring him back down, and then push again- a little harder each time. This tactic has so far proved to be useful and beneficial to us both.

Getting up to date (5)...

The move:

After driving around like a chicken with my head cut off, I finally found a place to board in Dewey. John and I went out to check it out and found it to be a relief. There were six happy horses in three small pastures. Boomer would have his own paddock with a shed and water tank. There would be three horses to the south and two to the north. We were in love. We told the women we would be in contact with her as soon as we could get a trailer lined up. John and I then drove to a feed store in Bartlesville and the owner offered to move Boomer that night! We called Sallie and couldn't get a hold of her and decided to bring him up anyway. Getting Boomer into the trailer wasn't soo bad this time. We immediately took a fence panel into his stall, backed the trailer up to the gate and he hopped right in. That was when the trouble started. He began to rear and got himself turned around backwards. I was terrified he would try to jump out of the back window! We got him turned around and tied his head tight. He continued to stomp and shake the trailer. We drove him to Sequili Stables and when I went to unload him he was drenched in sweat and more anxious than I have ever seen a horse. I decided to hook the longe line stud chain over his nose and pass the line through the trailer and out the back door. John donned my gloves and held the line in case Boomer took off. I then opened the back door and coaxed him backwards. He jumped out and was pretty shaky. It took both John and I to lead him to his pen. Once in, it started pouring down rain. I'm glad it didn't start any earlier!

I am so thankful for the kindness of those who helped us today. I thank Patrick and his wife for helping us trailer Boomer on such short notice, I thank Sallie for having such a wonderful place and for allowing us to bring Boomer on such short notice.

getting up to date (4)...

Day four:

Today was relatively uneventful. I have started working on longing Sabumi to the right. John helped me with this, leading him on the near side at a walk. Sabumi seemed OK with it, but for now I took him off the longe line at the trot.

On to a more important issue. As I mentioned before, the place we are boarding, Osage Stables, is terrible. It is in town, cheap, and the only place we could find with less than a 30 minute drive. The horses are in poor condition and the facility is just as bad. There are overgrown weeds everywhere, piles of junk, rusty sheds, and a tick infestation. John and I had a collective eleven ticks in one day. Sick. The real problems started happening for me when I began talking to Raymond about horse health. I was concerned about his paint stallion who was ill. He hadn't had a vet out. I came out the morning of the 11th and the horse was down. I decided to take Boomer out of his stall so that he didn't have to stare at a dying horse all day. It was then that I started talking to Raymond about deworming horses and vaccinating them. He pretty much told me that you can never know if dewormers work and that he doesn't believe in vaccinations. Add that to his comment about not needing to pull a coggins (already done) on Boomer because he "looks healthy" and I had just about had enough. I let Raymond know that I would be leaving for the afternoon and if anything was going to happen to the down horse, to please move Boomer so that he wouldn't have to witness it. Raymond laughed this off and said he would.

I came back that afternoon to do the night feed and the down horse was gone. Boomer was pacing in his stall, drenched in sweat.

We moved the next day.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Getting up to date (3)...

Day three:

Today felt like a big turning point. I really felt like Boomer and I bonded a lot today and made progress. I spent a lot of time grooming him and he really seemed to enjoy it. He is very flighty and it seems that the only handling he has had is being groomed, a routine he enjoys. At one point he turned around in his stall and kicked my grooming tote, scattering things and sending him off in a tizzy. I was afraid it would really set back the progress we had made, but he recovered quickly and watched calmly as I picked up all of the tools.

This was also the day that I discovered he does not like having his feet handled. More on that later.

It was raining a little today and I was wearing a rain coat, after a while I got hot and took it off and was somewhat surprised that Boomer didn't spook. I decided to sack him out to the jacket and he did beautifully! I laid it over him like a saddle blanket and he even wore it over his head! I was really impressed!

My afternoon visit was equally exciting. I decided it was about time to try a saddle and I borrowed one of Raymond's western saddles. After a bit of sniffing, I tossed it on and Boomer jigged around a bit but accepted it well. He kicked a little at the girth but did well over all. I walked him around and swung the stirrups at his sides. After a while I took it off and put my english saddle on him and he accepted it like it wasn't anything at all! I was so proud of him!

I can't believe that after only two days he is already wearing a saddle!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Getting up to date (2)...

Day two:
We spent a lot of time bonding today. I braided Boomer's mane and tried to show him that Life wasn't totally scary in this new place away from his friends and family. His forehead cuts are already healing nicely. I took him back out to the round pen and worked on longing again. It became clear to me that he had only even been longed to the left. Longing to the right produced kicks in my direction. That will take some work. I begin brainstorming and decide to have John help me next time in the round pen, leading Boomer at a walk while I longe to the right. We will have to see if that will work.

For now, I removed the longe line and encouraged him to longe at liberty. He often attempted to change directions and I had to stay on my toes to simultaneously keep him going in the direction I dictated and avoid receiving the free flowing kicks. Rest assured, no kick went unpunished.
One must be very well trained with longing to work with a young or untrained horse, especially at liberty. One must know that the purpose of longing is not to run to horse in circles until he is tired but to teach him respect, balance, cadence, and flexion. One must also have mastery over the longe whip in order to properly reprimand with a sharp snap in the air for an uninvited change of direction or a well placed snap on the offending leg if a kick is offered.
This session ended well with Boomer catching on quickly and readily accepting me as his leader when it was time to return to his stall.

A side note about Boomer's living situation:
He is being kept in quarantine for the first week at the new stables. Another horse in quarantine has an infection and doesn't look good. He has a swollen penis, can not urinate, is dehydrated, and emaciated. The owner hasn't had a vet out and I begin to become wary of the situation. I also notice that each horse I see come in from pasture is thin, still hairy ( a sign of improper nutrition), and wormy looking (ribs showing with a pot belly). A few of the horses are older and at first I write their condition off. Then I notice that some of the border's horses look healthy and I begin to realize that it is only the stable owner's horses which are in such poor condition. But, more on that later.

Getting up to date...

Flyin L Sabumi II, or 'Boomer' for all practical purposes, came into my life July 8th, 2008. I had been looking for the perfect endurance mount for months. He had to be Arabian, have a long stride, with large feet, a deep girth, and charming personality. I found Boomer and though he wasn't trained to be ridden, I knew I was interested. John and I went to check him out and found that he was overweight, under handled, and a bit of a handful. No problem!
Day one:
Well, on the 8th I went to pick him up with the owner of the boarding facility. It took us two hours to get the horse loaded into the trailer. We finally got him in by removing a gate from the fence and using the panel behind boomer to encourage him to jump into the trailer. We got him home an hour later to find that he had broken his second lead rope of the day and sustained a number of cuts to his forehead. As soon as I got him home I took him out to the round pen to work on joining up. It only took about 10 minutes to get him into a full sweat and once he started to relax, I released pressure and allowed him to walk in to me. I felt this was a huge stride already. Then I tried to lead him back to his stall only to have him begin to rear again and back up so quickly that he ripped the longe line through my hands (thankfully I was wearing gloves) all the way to the end of the line.